Alvaro Keding


The way in which places are tied into global flows of people, meanings and things — have led some to perceive an accelerating erosion of place. A combination of mass communication, increased mobility, and a consumer society has been blamed for a rapidly accelerating homogenization of the world. More and more of our lives, it has been argued, take place in spaces that could be anywhere — that look, feel, sound, and smell the same wherever in the globe we may be. Fast food outlets, shopping malls, airports, high street shops, and hotels are all arguably more or less the same wherever we go. These are spaces that seem detached from the local environment and tell us nothing about the particular locality in which they are located. The meaning that provides the sense of attachment to place has been radically thinned out.

Despite the costly character of an accelerated life, it remains the case that where we are — the place we occupy, however briefly — has everything to do with what and who we are (and finally, that we are).

The articulation of inside with outside or outside with inside is not limited to a simple exchange of items in and out of built structures, of information, decoration, air, private or public life, etc. In built places outside and inside are both intimate — they are always ready to be reversed, to exchange their hostility. If there exists a border-line between such an inside and outside, this surface is painful on both sides.

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And yet the rock remains, as do the trees and the birds, the wind and the sky. They are first and foremost themselves, despite the many meanings we discover in them. We may move them around and impose our designs upon them. We may do our best to make them bend to our wills. But in the end they remain inscrutable, artifacts of a world we did not make whose meaning for themselves we can never 
finally know. 

Strangers in Common

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